In a moving Nike ad that aired during the Academy Awards, Serena Williams sent women a message of encouragement to women, urging them to accept themselves as they strive for excellence.
“I’ve never been the right kind of woman,” she says, as images of her as a young girl playing tennis and then footage of her dominating performances flash across the screen. “Oversized and overconfident. Too mean if I don’t smile. Too black for my tennis whites. Too motivated for motherhood. But I am proving, time and time again, there’s no wrong way to be a woman.”
Williams, who suffered grave complications after the birth of her first child last September, will return to the court this week at Indian Wells. In a statement, she said that has become all the more committed to fighting for gender equality since her young daughter, Alexis Olympia, was born.
“I want my daughter to be truthful and honest, strong and powerful; to realize that she can impact those around her,” Williams’ statement reads. “I want her to grow up knowing a woman’s voice is extremely powerful. As females, we need to continue to be loud and make sure we are heard.”
As The Washington Post points out, Williams has been “taking stock of the country’s social and racial landscape, and assessing her own place in it” as she approaches the end of her athletic career. “I think being a woman is just a whole new set of problems from society that you have to deal with, as well as being black, so it’s a lot to deal with — and especially lately,” she said in an interview with rapper Common for ESPN in 2016. “I’ve been able to speak up for women’s rights because I think that gets lost in color, or gets lost in cultures.
Also in 2016, Williams penned an open letter encouraging women to “dream big.”
“As we know, women have to break down many barriers on the road to success,” Williams wrote. “One of those barriers is the way we are constantly reminded we are not men, as if it is a flaw. People call me one of the ‘world’s greatest female athletes.’ Do they say LeBron is one of the world’s best male athletes? Is Tiger? Federer? Why not? They are certainly not female. We should never let this go unchallenged. We should always be judged by our achievements, not by our gender.”
Read more at The Washington Post.